Tagged: Tony Pena

Sunday’s Heartbreak Now in the Rearview Mirror

55047840.jpgYou have to give it to these White Sox. After Sunday’s ninth-inning meltdown in Minnesota, the third Sox loss in a row, no one knew how the club would react as they headed to Seattle and Oakland. Rest easy Sox fans, at least for now.
There are still five more games remaining on the road trip, but the early signs on the West Coast are very promising. Behind a fine performance by 23-year-old Daniel Hudson and homers by Alex Rios and Andruw Jones, the Sox coasted to a 6-1 victory over the Mariners. In the process they increased their division lead to 2 1/2 games over the Tigers and Twins, who both lost–to the Rangers and Indians respectively.
Some highlights:
* The Pale Hose cranked out 12 hits. Omar Vizquel, Rios, Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham led the way with two apiece.
* Vizquel has been a marvel, at the plate and especially in the field. He’s now batting .271.
* Rios had three RBIs, including the two-run homer, giving him 54  for the season in addition to 16 roundtrippers and a .307 BA.
• Paulie continues to sizzle. His two hits last night raised his average to .303.
* Beckham’s surge has been fun to watch. Once languishing on or near the Mendoza line, GBeck is hitting .571 during his current eight-game hitting streak. He’s now at .241 and 
rising. In other words, he’s back to being the Beckham of a year ago.
* Hudson went 6 2/3, giving up only a lone first inning run. Matt Thornton, Tony Pena and Scott Linebrink closed the door in relief, combining for 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
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                                                 Mr. Hudson to the rescue



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White Sox Bullpen a Sight to Behold

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Pena, Putz, Thornton and Jenks Seal Deal Against Angels

I don’t want to be the typical provincial fan who can’t see beyond his own team and, admittedly, I haven’t done the required research to make the case. But it’s hard for me to believe there’s a bullpen in baseball with as much quality and depth as the White Sox.

The pen was on display again last night against the Angels as it was put to the test when Jake Peavy left the game in the second inning with a back injury. Cause for concern? Not really.
Tony Pena, who has come through time and again as the long man, was outstanding in the relief of Peavy. He picked up the slack by pitching 4 1/3 innings, allowing a single run on only five hits. He was followed by J.J. Putz, All-Star Matt Thornton and closer Bobby Jenks, who each pitched a scoreless inning. It all added up to a 4-1 over the Halos and Jered Weaver, who in his previous five starts against the South Siders surrendered a total of two earned runs.
Stats don’t tell the entire story, but here are some bullpen highlights:
–Jenks has 18 saves and has improved as the season has gone on, despite missing a week on the bereavement list.

–Thornton has been good enough as a setup guy to be named to the A.L. All-Star team. He’s recorded a 2.78 ERA with five saves.

–Putz’s ERA is an impressive 1.69. He has also been credited with five wins and a pair of saves.

Sergio Santos, the converted infielder who is in his first season in the majors, has a terrific 2.03 ERA in 30 games and has rescued the Sox more than once with his clutch pitching. He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations.

–Pena, except for his recent slump, has been a godsend in his “long” role as he was last night. He also leads the Sox pen in innings pitched.
Notes of the day: Peavy will most likely head to the DL. We’ll know more today after his MRI, but it doesn’t seem as serious as it looked at the time…Dan Hudson, enjoying a fine season at Charlotte with an 11-4 record and a 3.47 ERA, is expected to replace Peavy on the roster…With last night’s victory, the Sox kept pace with the Tigers and Twins. We’re a game behind division-leading Detroit and a half-game behind second place Minnesota.
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Sox Win 7th Straight and Hurdle .500 Mark–I Could Get Used to This

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When the Braves took an early 3-0 tonight against the White Sox at the Cell, I flashed back to April and May and had that sinking feeling that we were doomed.
But this is a different Sox team. One that can rebound from an early deficit because of renewed starting pitching, clutch hitting and defense that has improved their record to 35-34. You don’t have to look further than tonight’s result against the red-hot Braves to see that. Down 3-0 after one and a half innings, the South Siders scored five runs in the bottom of the second, added one in the third and three in the fourth en route to the 9-6 victory. And after his early woes, John Danks settled down and blanked Atlanta for the next five innings before being relieved by Tony Pena in the eighth.
Here we are one game above .500, 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins and only three in back of the Tigers.
Many heroes surfaced last night. Danks, A.J. Pierzynski (three hits, two RBI), Alexei Ramirez (three hits and an RBI), Paul Konerko (three hits to raise his BA to .304), Alex Rios (two hits and an RBI) and Carlos Quentin, who slammed a three-run homer for the team’s first roundtripper in eight games. We had 16 hits in all. The only negatives happened in the ninth with Scott Linebrink giving up two runs before being relieved by Bobby Jenks (who got the save) and Ramirez leaving the game with a finger injury. Too early to tell how serious the injury is.
No, I didn’t forget Omar Vizquel, who has been outstanding as the main replacement for the disabled Mark Teahen (remember him?). Omar delivered a clutch two-out, two RBI single in the Sox five-run second, which prolonged the rally (pictured above).
How important has Vizquel been to the Sox recent resurgence? The Sox are 13-6 when the future Hall of Fame starts at third base.
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Sox Split with Rays; Jayson Delivers in Nix of Time

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A week ago, when the White Sox embarked on their seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, it’s safe to say that we would have been happy with what now has happened–a series win over the Tribe and a split with the Rays. 
Of course more would have been better, but the way this season is going a 4-3 mark is satisfactory–with the hope that June will be the time for the turnaround.
The finale in Tampa Bay yesterday, an 8-5 triumph over baseball’s best team, had a lot of heroes. Jayson Nix, who replaced Mark Teahen (injury to right middle finger) at third in the middle of the game, gave the Sox the lead for good in the sixth with a grand slam (pictured above). Alex Rios went 3 for 5 with his 11th homer and a pair of RBI and Juan Pierre made two spectacular catches. 
On the pitching side Jake Peavy was nothing special, but got the win. Sergio Santos lowered his ERA to 0.48, Matt Thornton pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and Tony Pena finished the game by retiring Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.
Now it’s back to Chicago to face the Rangers, Indians and Tigers. No time to waste.
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We’re Well Aware of the Present, How About the Future?

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The spring training of 2009 offered something Sox fans hadn’t seen in a long time–bonafide position prospects. Gordon Beckham, Chris Getz, Brandon Allen, Dayan Viciedo (above), Jordan Danks and Tyler Flowers were among them and offered a glimpse of what appeared to be a bright future for the South Siders.
More than a year later, things have changed. That’s not to say all is lost, but right now the situation is very different and critics are questioning the Sox future.
* Beckham is hitting .194

* Getz, traded to the Royals in the Mark Teahen deal, is batting .188

* Allen, dealt to the D-backs for Tony Pena, is now at AAA Reno hitting .216 with three homers and 11 RBI.

* Viciedo, now 21 and moved to first base, is hitting .297 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI at AAA Charlotte. Certainly promising.

* Danks, who was so impressive in the Arizona Fall League and had a good spring, has a .218 BA with two homers and 19 RBI for the Knights.

* Flowers, the prize in the Javier Vazquez deal and the heir apparent to A.J. Pierzynski, has eight homers and 18 RBI, but is hitting .220 at Charlotte.
So, with the big league floundering with one of the oldest rosters in the majors and some of our top prospects failing to live up to expectations (plus the injury to ’09 top pick Jared Mitchell), where do the Sox go from here?
KW, any comment?
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Pena Makes Chicken Salad Out of Chicken  &%$#


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The game got off to an awful start. After both Ozzie and Mark Buehrle were tossed early in the game by veteran umpire Cowboy Joe West–Guillen for arguing a balk call and Buehrle for tossing his glove in disgust after committing his second balk–things looked rather dim as Randy Williams jogged to the mound to relieve Mr. Perfect.
Williams didn’t last long, giving up a run and three hits in 2/3 of an inning. But the day was saved by Tony Pena (above), who pitched four scoreless frames while allowing only two hits. Offensively, Mark Kotsay smashed a homer with a man on and Mark Teahen clubbed a two-out, two-run double. The Sox needed every bit of it in the 5-4 win today against the Indians as Bobby Jenks imploded in the ninth by giving up three runs before getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam.
Aside from being credited with the victory, Pena’s noble performance also saved the bullpen from work it didn’t need. The Buehrle ejection and the potential negative impact it could have had on the pen was the last thing we needed heading into a four-game series in St. Pete against the Rays. Hopefully Pena’s rescue effort will pay dividends this weekend.
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Sox Win Impressively in Camelback Ranch Finale

With the White Sox blanking the A’s 2-0 yesterday in their last spring home game, I can’t help but think we’re going to see a lot of similar games this year. With one of the best starting staffs in baseball and potentially an outstanding pen, it’s reasonable to expect that the Sox will keep the opposition from lighting up the scoreboard more often than not.

Offensively, the Sox have lost the power of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. The hope is that the “Ozzieball” approach will score as many runs and folks like Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios and Andruw Jones can provide adequate power numbers. That said, I still think lower scoring games will be the rule rather than the exception. And, to me, that’s a good thing.

Back to yesterday, it was neat and clean. Mark Buehrle (5 innings), Tony Pena (1), Randy Williams (1) and Bobby Jenks (2) combined for the shutout and Konerko and Quentin both went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Quentin hit his fifth homer of the spring.

The South Siders close out spring training this week. They make the short trip to Goodyear today to face the Indians, have split squad games against the Mariners in Peoria and their AAA affiliate in Charlotte on Thursday and journey to Atlanta to face the Braves on Friday night and Saturday. Then it’s onward to Chicago for Opening Day Monday against Cleveland.

uscell.jpg                                      Opening Day: Five Days and Counting…